Taxing road users for the upkeep of roads is an old idea, going back to at least the 12th Century, and perhaps before.Nubo wrote: ↑Thu Mar 11, 2021 12:13 pmGasoline or road tax perhaps made sense in the early 20th century when vehicle ownership was a rarity and nice paved roads were seen as a perk for the well-to-do. Today everyone depends upon and benefits from the road and highway infrastructure, regardless of how much time they do or do not spend driving a car.
Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, 1776, argues for a tax based on weight, and for a higher rate on luxury travelers.
When the carriages which pass over a highway or a bridge, and the lighters which sail upon a navigable canal, pay toll in proportion to their weight or their tonnage, they pay for the maintenance of those public works exactly in proportion to the wear and tear which they occasion of them. It seems scarce possible to invent a more equitable way of maintaining such works. This tax or toll too, though it is advanced by the carrier, is finally paid by the consumer, to whom it must always be charged in the price of the goods. As the expense of carriage, however, is very much reduced by means of such public works, the goods, notwithstanding the toll come cheaper to the consumer than the; could otherwise have done; their price not being so much raised by the toll as it is lowered by the cheapness
of the carriage. The person who finally pays this tax, therefore, gains by the application more than he loses by the payment of it. His payment is exactly in proportion to his gain. It is in reality no more than a part of that gain which he is obliged to give up in order to get the rest. It seems impossible to imagine a more equitable method of raising a tax. When the toll upon carriages of luxury upon coaches, post-chaises, etc., is made somewhat higher in proportion to their weight than upon carriages of necessary use, such as carts, waggons, etc., the indolence and vanity of the rich is made to contribute in a very easy manner to the relief of the poor, by rendering cheaper the transportation of heavy goods to all the different parts of the country.